NSSN 429: PCS launches national pay strike ballot

We headline this week’s bulletin with PCS’s national industrial action ballot on pay, which opened yesterday. PCS is one of our longstanding affiliated unions and we give them and their members our full support and solidarity.

PCS Wolverhampton Universal Credit strike March 11
PCS Wolverhampton Universal Credit strike March 11

The NSSN vice-chair Katrine Williams is a member of the PCS NEC:-

“To challenge the Government’s pay restraint it is vital that we break through the 50% threshold in our current PCS ballot of 125,000 mainly Government Department members. So that we can demand the full funding for a 10% pay rise that is needed to increase pay to decent levels in the civil service and return to national bargaining.

Pay is a big issue across the public sector but civil servants in the main Whitehall departments have had an even worse deal. In the main we do not have any pay progression so have no way of getting to the top of the pay scales. The imposed pension scheme increases wiped out the miserable 1% pay “rises” so pay has literally gone down before you even take into cost of living rises. Yet again the Treasury want to restrict our pay rise to 1% and the Permanent Secretaries in the Whitehall departments are just going along with this despite huge discontent over low pay coming out strongly in the staff survey.

Katrine Williams, Chair of PCS Wales on political representation for workers.
Katrine Williams speaking at NSSN Conference

Our members can see the government in complete disarray at the same time as demanding more from us to deal with the fallout of Brexit. So we recognise now is a good time to fight back on pay and win.

Winning on pay will also increase the appetite to fight back against the overall chronic under-funding of government departments. Many of the public services delivered by civil service are only being held together with th hard work of our members. As can be seen by fantastic support for PCS members striking for more staff in Universal Credit offices. We need to fight back against office closures and for full staffing levels to deliver quality public services.”

PCS: All you need to know about the pay ballot and how to vote

PCS; 21 March Facebook Live event – ask Mark Serwotka


Mark Serwotka to speak at Ealing tax office strike (13 Mar) – As PCS HMRC members walk out of the closure-threatened Ealing office at noon next Wednesday (20) PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka will join them on their picket line. Mark will speak at the rally as the first HMRC-specific strike action for at least 5 years gets under way, supported by PCS members opposing the closure of their west London office. International House, in Ealing, could close as early as 2020, putting many staff at risk of redundancy. More than 84% voted in favour of striking, and 95% backed action short of a strike on a 57% turnout in a ballot which ended yesterday. The branch is planning a series of strikes in March and April, and members will refuse to do non-contractual overtime from 20 March.

The following action is planned:

  • a half-day strike starting at noon on 20 March
  • a further half-day strike commencing at noon on 26 March
  • a one-day strike on 3 April
  • a 3-day strike commencing on 10 April read more




More NSSN news

Get your trade union branch or trades council to affiliate to the NSSN – it only costs £50. Already affiliated? Please think about renewing it. Also, many of our supporters pay a few pounds a month. You can set up a similar standing order to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’, HSBC – sort code 40-06-41, account number 90143790. Our address is NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE

Date for your diaries:

  • 2019 NSSN Conference – 11am-4.30pm Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL – Saturday July 6th. Please use this letter in your union and trades council to help us finance the conference and affiliate to the NSSN 

Download the ‘Join the NSSN’ leaflet here

And if you can, come to one of our regional Conferences. If there is not one in your area, get in touch to either assist in organising or have a speaker at one of your meetings or events. Contact Rob or Linda on [email protected]

Follow us on twitter via @NSSN_AntiCuts and Facebook




Union News


RMT claims victory in Freightliner pension dispute (15 Mar) – ail union RMT is claiming victory in the Freightliner pension dispute following discussions and confirmation in writing that the company are withdrawing their proposals to amend the pension scheme. As a result strike action by Freightliner members planned for today – Friday 15th March – has been cancelled and members have been instructed to work as usual. The union had been in dispute with the company over its failure to commit to maintaining the current scheme and honour past promises made to members to keep the scheme intact. Freightliner now state that “there will be no changes to eligibility to join the RPS for existing employees or new starters.” Read more

RMT calls for immediate action to transfer Interserve rail contracts in-house to avoid chaos as company faces crisis vote today (15 Mar) – RAIL UNION RMT today called for all transport contracts held by out-sourcing giant Interserve to be brought in house as the company faces a knife-edge vote of shareholders today that could see them forced into administration in a repeat of the Carillion collapse just over a year ago read more    Unite demands urgent Interserve administrator meeting following company’s collapse   Interserve contracts must be bought back in-house, says UNISON  Interserve administration: PCS calls for job and employment right guarantees   GMB: Interserve handed £660 million taxpayer contracts months before facing collapse

RMT secures major pay victory for Emirates Air Line Cable Car workers (13 Mar) – TRANSPORT UNION RMT announced today that it has secured a major pay victory for members working on the Emirates Air Line Cable Car which crosses the River Thames in London. The new pay deal means that staff will see their wages rise by between 14.35% and 22.35 %. RMT says that the pay breakthrough proves that when workers are organised into a militant, industrial trade union, they can secure significant pay victories. Operator Grade 1 workers – who were on the lowest pay scale – will receive a 22.35% increase in pay. Operator Grade 2 workers will see an increase of 15.80% and Technicians a rise of 14.35% read more



TSSA in Dispute Over Union Busting Transfer (15 March) – Industrial action on Britain’s freight trains is on the cards after the TSSA rail union declared a dispute with its German government owners Deutsche Bahn Cargo (DBC). General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, believes the German government is using Brexit as a pretext to reorganise the business and is hiving off skilled and unionised workers to a company with a history of union busting read more



Support the Honda Workers – the NSSN calls on all our supporters and affiliates to attend the ‘Stand together for Honda Swindon’ March and Rally on Saturday 30 March 2019 Facebook event – with details of transport    Unite: Swindon’s people urged to take to the streets to Save Honda

Sign the petition: To: Honda president and CEO Takahiro Hachigo Honda, stay in the UK #SaveHondaSwindon    McCluskey: UK in the grip of manufacturing emergency – we must Save Honda

Birmingham bins dispute ends as agreement reached (15 March) – The long running Birmingham bins dispute, concerning ‘secret payments’ and the ‘blacklisting’ of workers has ended after Birmingham city council today (Friday 15 March) approved the detailed legal agreement that has ended the dispute. As part of the agreement between the council and Unite:

  • All Unite members who were balloted for industrial action in 2017 will receive £3,500.
  • All workers who claimed they were blacklisted by having holiday request refused during the current dispute will receive £500
  • Unite’s high court case concerning the council’s breach of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) which ended the 2017 dispute, will be terminated
  • The council will cease utilising mop up crews without a qualified waste reduction collections officer on board
  • The council is committed to holding a recruitment day so that agency staff can apply for permanent positions
  • All other outstanding legal issues have been resolved.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “Unite is pleased that it has been able to reach agreement with the council to finally bring an end to this lengthy dispute. By standing together our members have secured an excellent settlement and ended the injustice that they had been subject to. Their success demonstrates what can be achieved when workers are united…” read more

Crawley housing maintenance workers planning industrial action over poverty pay (18 March) – Workers employed by both Mears and Mitie undertaking housing maintenance work for Crawley council are gearing up for industrial action after nearly a decade of pay cuts, which has seen their earnings fall by 28 per cent in real terms. Since the two companies took over the housing maintenance contracts in 2010 the workers have seen a huge drop in real terms earnings. Workers on the Mears contract received a one per cent increase in 2015 and a further one per cent in 2018. Those on the Mitie contract received a one per cent increase in 2012 and a further 1.5 per cent in 2017. Since the two companies have managed the contracts, inflation has increased by 30 per cent. Unite will be staging a protest outside Crawley council offices tomorrow (Tuesday 19 March) about the huge real terms cuts in pay read more

Unite moves towards industrial action over ‘hostile’ and ‘bullying’ management at Lothian Buses (18 March) – Unite the union has today (18 March) confirmed that its membership at Lothian Buses is holding a consultative ballot on potential industrial action. The moves follows Lothian Buses’ management withdrawing facility time for the union’s branch chair and branch secretary in response to collective grievances being lodged over poor workplace relations. Unite has continually stated that there are real concerns over the conduct of senior management which includes delaying an offer by Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) for conciliation. The latest development to withdraw facility time for Unite’s representatives is indicative of the unreasonable and unjust way that senior management has dealt with workplace issues. Unless the outstanding issues are addressed immediately including the reinstatement of facility time, then industrial action could result in buses being taken off the streets of Edinburgh. Unite will now hold a consultative ballot, which opens today and will run until Friday 12 April. Previous action last year was averted following a meeting held at Acas, which led to the signing of a procedural agreement. Unite believed this agreement would provide a fair way to deal with workers’ concerns read more

BA passengers at Gatwick still facing fresh food shortages as pay offer rejected (15 March) – HGV drivers employed by Alpha Flight, the sole supplier of inflight food for British Airways at Gatwick airport, have rejected a revised pay offer, increasing the prospect of strike action and disruption to the service. Last month the 55 Unite members voted by 98 per cent in favour of strike action after Alpha Flight reneged on an agreement to introduce a market rate alignment pay allowance for HGV drivers. The drivers are paid far below the average local pay for workers undertaking similar roles. An overtime ban was due to begin from next Monday (18 March) however this was called off after the company offered an additional six per cent increase for the drivers. However, following a consultative ballot the new offer was overwhelmingly rejected by the drivers and further talks are scheduled for Monday 18 March. The first strike is scheduled for 03:00 on Wednesday 27 March until 23:59 on Thursday 28 March. Unite is preparing to announce further strike dates, which are set to take place next month read more

Essar Stanlow refinery workers threaten strike vote over job losses (15 March) – Unite will begin the process to ballot more than 500 members at Essar Oil (UK) in Ellesmere Port on whether they wish to take industrial action up to and including strike action over potential job losses, and the company’s failure to consult with staff meaningfully.Unite has accused Essar of failing to explore every reasonable option to minimise job losses, including the redeployment of workers by replacing contractor or agency roles with Essar staff, or through the creation of new positions. The proposed job losses come at the same time as record levels of overtime are being worked. Up to 155 workers’ jobs are under threat at the Stanlow site following Essar’s plans to decommission the Shell Higher Olefins Plant (SHOP) and Alcohols units, leaving staff desperately worried about their future read more

Unite holds industrial action ballot at Angus council (13 March) – Unite the union last night (12 March) held a meeting attended by dozens of members at Angus council following the opening of a strike ballot. Unite members previously held a consultative ballot at the local authority where 98 per cent were in favour of holding a legal ballot. The ongoing ballot, which will close on 22 March, is in response to Angus council imposing changes to the terms and conditions of 140 staff who work in environmental services. If the strike action ballot is successful then industrial action including a ban on overtime and a work to rule is likely to take place from late March until late June 2019 read more

Unite holds industrial action ballot over pay and pension dispute at Glasgow airport (12 March) – Unite the union has today (12 March) confirmed that it is holding an imminent industrial action ballot at Glasgow Airport over a pay claim for 2019 and following proposals to close the final salary pension scheme. In January 2019 the airport issued a 60-day consultation on closing the defined benefit pension scheme which has broken an Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) agreement made in 2016 to keep the scheme open to existing members. The airport is unilaterally proposing the scheme’s closure, despite posting huge profits. Glasgow airport’s latest pay offer of 1.5 per cent, which represents a real terms pay cut, was rejected following a consultative ballot by 100 per cent on a 97 per cent turn out. The pension proposal was also rejected by a consultative ballot on the exact same figures. Glasgow airport has failed to significantly increase the pay offer despite admitting that they remain on target to increase profits for 2019 by at least six per cent. The airport is part of AGS Airports Limited group, which also owns Aberdeen and Southampton airports, with all three airports being subject to the pension proposal. Unite represents around 500 workers at Glasgow airport. The company posted a £74 million profit after tax in 2017 up from £51 million in 2016. If the strike action ballot is successful, Unite members are expected to take action during the mid-April to mid-October period with an overtime ban scheduled to take place during the same period read more

Hackney council blamed for planned strikes which will affect bussing disabled children to school – Hackney council is being blamed for four days of planned strikes by drivers and passenger escorts on the school buses for disabled children in a dispute over payments for working split shifts. Unite said its 33 members, who drive and assist the children to and from school on a daily basis, will stage four 24 hour strikes on 19 and 26 March and then on 2 and 4 April. The dispute centres on a £50 a week claim for compensation for the split shifts, backdated to July last year when the issue was first raised. Unite said this claim is based on the next grade in the Green Book national agreement which the union believes is the correct one for this group of workers. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The last thing our members want is to cause the children any distress. However, council bosses have adamantly refused to negotiate for the last nine months and, in Unite’s opinion, are playing on the decency and humanity of our members that they won’t strike read more

Unite Hackney Passenger strike

Support the Newark NSK Bearings strike – “There’s only so much meat on the bone. NSK have taken so much off us they’ve now passed the bone and are into the marrow!” Pickets outside the Newark factory, members of Unite, told Jon Dale of the NSSN why they are on all-out strike. Workers are determined to get back some work-life balance. “People have been off with stress and illnesses. If they can’t get a proper rest the immune system hits rock bottom. In 2016 management foisted new shift patterns on G2 department. “We can work up to 200 extra hours a year, but not get paid until 13 months later. A maximum 74 hours can be banked, but when nearly at 74 we’re sent home mid-week – partners are at work and children at school. We then have to work the weekend. Instead of voluntary overtime, banked hours became compulsory – with disciplinary threats for not working weekends. Tipping point came last Christmas. Managers broke usual practice and workers got ten days’ notice they were expected to work the weekend before Monday 24th. All stuck together and no-one came in. Disciplinary letters were sent out seven weeks later. Changes to shift times mean Monday to Thursday afternoon shifts finishing 2am.Some workers, women and men, then walk home across town. Saturday and Sunday shifts have been split up so management gain an extra four hours’ work on Friday nights, afternoon shift not finishing until 11.40pm. Unite members in G1 section wanted to be part of this dispute. Although on different shift patterns they see the threat. A company making huge profits with no consideration for its workers won’t treat other sections any better in the future if it gets away with this.”

Solidarity messages to [email protected]  Unite: Newark workers in three week strike at bearings factory in work/life balance row



Environment Agency staff vote on strike action over pay (14 March) – The Environment Agency has refused to make a better offer – or even to reopen talks. The threat of industrial action is looming at the Environment Agency after it decided to force a below inflation pay rise on its 10,000 staff earlier this year, says UNISON today (Thursday). UNISON is asking Environment Agency staff whether they would be prepared take industrial action to try to win a better wage rise than the 1.3% that’s been imposed on them. Since 2010 staff have faced a 20% real-terms pay cut read more

Liverpool Women’s Hospital staff escalate strike over unfair pay (11 Mar) – Second week of action as private company refuses to pay agreed national NHS rate of pay – despite managers’ pay having risen. Liverpool Women’s Hospital staff employed by the private company OCS have resumed their strike this week, taking action today (Monday) with more planned for Wednesday. The staff previously took one day of action on 25 February after a unanimous vote in favour of striking. More than 40 staff who work as cleaners, catering staff, porters and security officers joined the strike, which has been provoked by the refusal of OCS to pay them the NHS rate for the job. OCS staff on the minimum wage are paid £1 an hour less than if they were on the NHS rate – which costs them up to £2,150 this year alone read more

Support the striking Birmingham homecare workers – Please send messages of support and donations to Unison Birmingham branch, 46 The Priory Queensway Birmingham  B4 7LR. Email [email protected]    Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/birminghamunison/



Firefighters slam “incomprehensible” further cuts to the fire service (12 March) – The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has branded proposed further cuts to Surrey fire and rescue service as “incomprehensible”, just months after a government inspection voiced “serious concerns” about the county’s fire and rescue service. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has experienced brutal cuts, with 131 firefighter positions slashed between 2010 and 2018 – a 17% reduction in the workforce. The proposed cuts would see a further 70 firefighter posts axed in the area, cutting numbers by 22% since 2010 read more



‘Heart-breaking’ farewell as Appledore shuts after 200 years (15 Mar) – GMB’s Appledore members are today bidding an emotional farewell as the famous shipyard shuts after more than 200 years. The North Devon yard has built almost 200 vessels since it opened in 1855 and is absolutely crucial to the South West economy and British shipbuilding. In what has been described as a ‘cruel blow’ Babcock have not allowed Appledore workers now working to Devonport to return and walk out of the yard with their colleagues for a final time today read more



Ten colleges face strike action in third wave of walkouts (15 March) – UCU members at 10 English colleges will be taking three days’ strike action next week in the fight for fair pay and conditions. Members at West Thames College will kick things off with a three-day walkout that begins on Monday. Colleagues at Bath College, Bradford College, Bridgwater & Taunton College, City of Wolverhampton College, Croydon College, Harlow College, New College Swindon, Petroc in Devon and South Bank College (previously Lambeth College) will then walk out from Wednesday to Friday. The strikes are part of a third wave of action after UCU members at six colleges took action in November and staff at 12 colleges walked out at the end of January. The dispute centres on the failure of college bosses to make a decent pay offer to staff or address key issues such as excessive workloads read more   Strikes off at New College Swindon as deal agreed



Teachers strike again at Valentine Primary School, Southampton – Staff at Valentine Primary School are to strike again this week on Wednesday and Thursday over the threat of redundancies and increased workload at the school read more from Southern Daily Echo    Send messages of support via Southampton Fair Funding for All Schools Facebook page

Shrewsbury College: Teachers walk out for six days over lesson grading – Talks between staff and teachers broke down over plans to introduce a graded lesson observation plan for all staff. Teachers at a sixth-form college are taking six days of strike action over proposals to bring in graded lesson observations for more staff. Around 100 NEU members, more than 40 per cent of the college’s 250 teaching staff, were balloted for strike action read more from tes. The latest strikes are today and tomorrow

Lambeth Academy have secured a ballot for strike action over working conditions. Send messages of solidarity to [email protected]



POA March and Rally Wednesday 20th March – Violence, Pension Age, Privatisation – Support This Campaign, Join us in London on the 20th. The march will assemble on Whitehall Place WC2N. It will form up from 10:30am and move off at 11am and march along Whitehall, past Downing Street and on to the Methodist Central Hall. The Rally will take place in Methodist Central Hall at 12.30pm, finishing at around 3pm with members then lobbying their Members of Parliament read here for details



Read the latest about the Picturehouse dispute on Brixton Ritzy Facebook Page and those of Hackney, Crouch End, Central, Dulwich East and Duke of York Brighton

Donate to the Picturehouse Cinema strike fund: https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/250/picturehousestrike



Join solidarity protest for NUJ members Barry McCaffrey & Trevor Birney (12 March) – Our colleagues and investigative journalists Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney are due back in court on Wednesday 20 March having been arrested on 31 August 2018 by detectives from Durham Constabulary and collaboration with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) read more




Blacklisting & Victimisation

Blacklist Support Group financial appeal: the Blacklist support group is desperately short of funds, to continue the incredible work we need more finance, would you please consider making a donation, raise it at your branches and trade councils. Please make cheques payable to Joint sites committee and send to 70 Darnay Rise Chelmsford Essex CM1 4XA. Please forward onto your contacts many thanks Steve Kelly (JSC Treasurer)

Blacklisted t-shirts available at: https://shop.hopenothate.org.uk/component/hikashop/product/78-blacklisted-t-shirt

Book: http://newint.org/books/politics/blacklisted-secret-war/

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNcgrNs6pB8

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/blacklistSG/

Blog: www.hazards.org/blacklistblog





China: Release Jailed Labour Rights Activists Exercising Rights to Freedom of Association read more

Jordan: New labour law must recognise workers’ rights read more








6 NSSN Conference Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL



PHONE 07952 283 558

EMAIL mailto:[email protected]


TWITTER – https://twitter.com/NSSN_AntiCuts


ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE